Advanced Drama students take stab at playwriting

March 16, 2010 — by Mary Mykhaylova

Setting aside their acting and directing endeavors of the past, advanced drama students are becoming playwrights this semester, taking a stab at producing their own individual screenplays.

Though still under the supervision of teacher Christopher Mahle, the class is mostly being taught by Dan Moyer, a representative from TheatreWorks, a regional theatre company based in Palo Alto.

“The goal is to have each student write a short play,” said Moyer. “A few of them
will be selected and have staged readings at TheatreWorks using professional actors.”

The drama students have in essence been given unlimited freedom in the creation of their pieces.

“It’s impossible not to write about things that are on your mind or that affect you so it is really nice to be able to get it out on paper,” said senior Natalie Riccomini. “It’s a great creative release.”

Settings range from modern Saratoga to WWI Europe, and conflicts span from family feuds to battles between pirates and space pirates.

“The students are all really wonderful, and there’s such diversity in terms of the types of plays the kids are writing,” said Moyer.

Moyer’s class periods with the students have included a mix of different approaches to prepare them for their playwriting project.

“Some of the class is devoted to theory stuff, such as status change and subtext,” said Moyer. “Meanwhile, other exercises are intended generate actual material for the students to use.”

The playwrights whose screenplays are taken to TheatreWorks will have the opportunity to work with a director who will block the show and offer feedback. This is an opportunity for the playwright to actually see his or her play in order to notice any necessary changes.

“The focus here is on the text,” said Moyer, “not the lights or costumes or anything but the words, but only the words.”

Moyer hopes that this process will prompt each student to become a playwright, or at the very least, learn a bit more about analyzing theatre and film.

“I still don’t think quite think of myself as a playwright, but learning about writing has introduced new ways to think about examining characters and portraying them,” said junior Jaemyeong Lee.

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